Two nights ago, three Muslim students were shot dead outside of their apartment complex in what police are saying was an escalation of a longstanding dispute over a parking space. It appears that the incident is completely isolated – a cut and dry affair that has nothing to do with the race or faith of the shooter, nor does it have anything to do with anti-Islamic sentiment in either the media or society at large. It’s just a random shooting based on a parking space.
But while this seems to be an open and shut case – a simple shooting motivated by a dispute over a parking space (which certainly isn’t terrorism and shouldn’t be labelled as such) – it does raise questions about the peripheral details. Just what exactly was this parking dispute? Do all Muslims steal parking spaces? Is the theft of parking spaces a type of terrorism? What is terrorism anyhow? For the answer, I consulted my dictionary.
Hmm, wow. Makes you think.
While the white male shooter was obviously mentally ill – some kind of lone wolf type, not really a terrorist per se – he was still a human being, and it’s important that we profile him as such. What we’re his interests? What did his neighbors think of him? He clearly murdered the three students in some irrational, unpredictable way that’s not indicative of any kind of societal problem, but tell me more about his life before he snapped. The shooting is so random and isolated that it begs the question: is it possible that the victims were members of ISIS? Were they issued secret commands by the terrorist group, possibly through some kind of telepathic powers that Muslims refuse to acknowledge that told them to steal those parking spaces? We’re they doing terrorism at some point? Can we find any evidence of that? We can’t? Oh. Rats.
While we can’t say for certain that these three victims were terrorists, we can definitely say that the shooting itself wasn’t, and the shooter acted alone, not on behalf of white people and certainly not on behalf of either atheists or Christians, and that’s what’s important here. Because in the wake of a tragic death, it’s our job as critical thinkers to align the story with our narratives, perpetuate our convictions, and use this depressing reminder of human indignity to fuel our hatred of those we already disagree with.